The Minority in Parliament has kicked against a proposed transitional provision to delay the implementation of the Right to Information Bill (RTI) for a year when it is passed.
They questioned the government for foot-dragging the passage of the RTI bill which was drafted 22 years ago.
This comes after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Suhum, Frederick Opare-Andah, proposed the amendment that the RTI should come into force 12 months from the date on which the Act is assented to by the President.
He said public institutions needed to be given time to engage information officers and establish information offices to facilitate the release of information to the public.
But the Minority said the media, civil society organisations and many Ghanaians had waited for the passage and implementation of the RTI for years.
MP for Tamale Central, Alhaji Inusah Abdulai Fuseini; MP for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh-Chireh, and MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, therefore, asked the House to reject the transitional provision.
However, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, ruled that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, should inform Parliament, in writing or person, on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, as to whether the government was ready to implement an RTI law immediately or after a specified period.
In its 2016 manifesto, the NPP had assured that it would ensure the passage of the RTI bill if the then Parliament failed to do so. Therefore, when the party won the 2016 elections, many were those who were expectant that the RTI bill was going to be passed within a short period into the administration.
The expectations of Ghanaians was thus heightened when a month into the administration, Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, promised in February 2017 that the bill was going to be passed within 100 days.
The heightened expectations by Ghanaians were legitimate given that the promise had come from no less a person than Bawumia.
The 100 day promise by the Vice President came to pass without any action on the Bill. Many had then wondered what may have informed Bawumia’s promise.
What is RTI bill?
The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights. The bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
It was first drafted 22 years ago under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA.
The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010.
It was subsequently withdrawn to review some clauses.
Since then, efforts by several advocacy groups to put pressure on the duty bearers to have the Bill passed have also not yielded any positive results until now.
Observers have criticized successive governments for lacking the political will to pass the Bill.